Many scientists were alarmed when Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who does not believe in the scientific consensus on climate change, this year became chair of the Senate Space, Science and Competitiveness Subcommittee. Those concerns grew on Thursday when, during a budget hearing, Cruz said that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was spending too much on earth science (which is where the agency studies climate change, among many other topics) and not enough on space exploration. NASA officials questioned the way Cruz analyzed their budget, and also defended the centrality of earth science to NASA's mission, National Journal reported.
On Friday, the American Geophysical Union sent Cruz a letter defending the type of earth science that only NASA can do. "Earth science division missions aid in flood prediction, earthquake response and severe storm tracking across the Great Plains," the letter said. "Greater knowledge and prediction skill are urgent when we consider the effort, time and costs of protecting infrastructure along coasts, rebuilding fish populations, developing new water resources for manufacturing and agriculture, and restoring communities in the wake of hazards. These observations, and many others like them, are integral and require the vantage point of outer space."
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